Sometimes you have to declare your love for fried chicken, and say it loud and proud. Even if you're a healthcare chef.
I recently came across this blog about Barbara Lu's Fried Chicken by Tim Spain, system executive chef with Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center and Morrison Healthcare. Yes...a healthcare chef writing about fried chicken. He starts with a disclaimer: "I usually try not to write about fried foods, however..." Hmm, tell us more!
Spain goes on to say that Barbara Andrews started working for Morrison Healthcare in 1980 at the Tallahassee mall. Later she worked in assisted living and also at Florida A&M. She's back working for Morrison again, this time alongside Chef Spain at the hospital, where the days Andrews makes her signature fried chicken are the busiest in the cafe. Coincidence?
"I believe it's because of the chicken," Spain writes. "I see a lot of the same faces each Thursday and they are folks who come to eat with us on their lunch breaks from neighboring businesses. I often hear how good the chicken is and sometimes I get the pleasure of introducing them to Miss Barbara Lu when she is enjoying her lunch break in the cafe."
He says her face lights up when she hears the compliments. Curious? You can find her recipe here, too.
Sure, there are ways to make fried chicken healthier. I wrote about it in this magazine. Coating it with crunchy cereal and then baking it, basically. We all hear about panko bread crumbs nonstop. But sometimes only fried chicken, submerged in buttermilk, kissed with hot sauce, fried to crispy perfection and made with love, will do. It's one of Garden & Gun magazine's 100 Southern Foods You Must Absolutely, Positively Try Before You Die. Prince's Hot Chicken Shack serves a regional specialty, hot chicken, that's so spicy it makes you hurt (in a good way...I think...) I really want to try it next time I'm in Nashville (which is hopefully soon!)
Hospital chefs (and chefs in other onsite segements, too) are under constant pressure to come up with healthful menu items. And Chef Spain isn't saying to have fried chicken every day. But serving it to hardworking people who enjoy it as a treat during their long workweek...it just seems so right.